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Thrustmaster Awarded New U.S. Navy Contract

Houston-based Thrustmaster of Texas has won a contract with Fincantieri Marinette Marine for the design, development and manufacture of the auxiliary propulsion unit (APU) to be installed on the U.S. Navy’s future guided missile frigates. The APU package from Thrustmaster will include the 1MW retractable azimuthing thruster, controls, prime mover electric motor, variable frequency drive and the steering and retractions power unit.

“Each frigate will have one APU,” said Adam Jost, general manager of sales and marketing for Thrustmaster.“The APU is for enhanced maneuvering, slow speed loitering, emergency propulsion and station keeping.”

In addition to its normal operational capabilities, Thrustmaster’s APUs for the project will be designed and built to MIL-STD-901E Grade-A shock qualification.

“This is a heavy grade of shock qualification,” Jost explained. “Our thruster is designed to withstand shock testing, whereby our propulsion unit will be installed in a test barge, and explosives will be detonated in the water at various distances from the thruster.”

The contract is for the first ship build, Jost said, with options for nine additional ships. This is Thrustmaster’s second contract for supplying APUs to the U.S. Navy. The Navy’s LCS Independence-variant vessels are also equipped with 850 hp. APUs from Thrustmaster.

Thrustmaster is a privately held business with about 130 employees. The company offers both hybrid and all-electric marine propulsion system solutions for ferries, passenger vessels and towing vessels.

“Thrustmaster has several patents for this technology that we have developed, and many design innovations that can benefit the inland market looking for Tier IV alternatives through diesel-electric configurations or various stored-energy propulsion solutions,” Jost said.

Previous inland projects include Carline’s mv. USS Cairo and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ mv. Dan Reeves.

“We just completed the manufacturing and testing of the new 500 hp. Z-drive thrusters for the propulsion system upgrade of the Cameron II ferry in Louisiana,” Jost said.